My Baltimore


Baltimore.  It’s my city. I was born here.  I moved away many times, only to come back.  My family has a long history here in Baltimore.  My great grandfather was the head of the State’s Road Commission and helped design 695, the beltway around the city, the Harbor Tunnel, and BWI (now Thouroughgood Marshall Airport).  I love the people, the sights, the feeling, the vibe.  It’s a hard city.  It was ranked as the number 11th most dangerous cities in the US last year.  But, there is a feeling of hope emerging that says change is coming.  At least, that’s what my heart hears.  Some days that whisper is a quiet one and hard to discern.  Some days I choose to hear it, willing that voice to be louder.

I spent some time with Dee,  from Red Letter Words, and her husband, while I was at Relevant last year.  Somehow we started talking about Baltimore.  I shared with her about the crime, my work with under aged sex traffic victims and the hope I have for my city.  Look what she just sent me.  I love it!

Red Letter Art Baltimore

Not only does it share some of Baltimore’s characteristics and culture, but she laced words of hope throughout the canvas.  Thank you Dee.


There is also a poem I wanted to share with you, written by a high school art student from  Baltimore School for the Arts.  Aaron is a theater major and has grown up in Baltimore.  He performed this at my son’s 16th birthday party and I had goose bumps.  I’m not the only one who has chosen to believe hope will emerge  in my city.


Goodmorning student body I embody everybody.   So when you call me the bomb I call you kamakazes because what makes me is what’s around me my surroundings.    Like if I were my ears all yall would be surround soundings.     But blasting 24/7 would be brothers in front of convenience stores conveniently storaging drugs up their socks as the cops soar.     And that racist 7-11 on harford and glenmore.     Yes I need more but I know what I’m fighting for.      So I close my eyes.     I’m not sleeping.     I’m just dreaming.     I pray 2 god “give me meaning because I am lost.”      Yes I’m lost and confused luck lost too soon.      But I know where I wanna go and I know where I’ve come from.      Even though I feel I can no longer run.     I once heard Sam Cooke say that a change gone come.      My grandmother always whispers in my ear that a change gone come.      So instead of running I walk and strive to keep a steady speed and stare up at the sky at this faceless creed.      I hate to bleed but that’s what I gave just to live out a dream.      So for you to tell me not to dream, don’t fly because I have no wings well that’s obscene because like a crack addict for these dreams I fene.      And I hold all of these dreams in my fist and all of me flows through my wrist and flows out like sierra mist and this fist isn’t pro-black, asian, white or muslim, christian, jew.      This fist is pro-you.      This fist is me too.      This fist represents those clenched jaws and tears choked back.      Or those mornings when you’d wake up and want to throw on a throw back just because it was comfortable.      And that’s the whole meaning of this poem it’s about just being comfortable.     Comfortable enough in your own skin where u know no more walls have to built, no more imaginary stilts, and no more letting your own flowers wilt.      And to those comments that are meant to knock you off your knees like “ugghh who u tryna be.”      I simply respond I’m not trying to be anyone.      I’m just simply being me.      Now would you rather my try to be you while you try to be mtv.”     And u see that’s when they start to sweat like it was some type of imaginary furnace and they’re considering scraping off their own epidermis because they don’t feel like their there temples have been furnished.      And I could turn this love into hate really quickly but in my gut it just don’t sit right because the darkness will consume you in the absence of light and my love goes back past slavery all the way back to mama africa and the fact that it’s still here today that’s the strength of my love.      And how I can love you while you’re hating me that’s the extent of my love.      It goes past arms length of my hugs.      I got these other people wishing that they could have a hint of my love.      So I guess this is my proclomation to say I’m sending love to the populations of people who are facing those obstacles that are amazing.


By Aaron Pashtun